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The following is an article relating to the telemarketing industry including products and services in our business areas.
'Opt-in' may be best approach to email
Northwestern Financial Review, Aug 15-Aug 31, 2005 by Belling, Lane
No one likes spam in their in-box. The trouble is, spam works. For every 10,000 emails a company sends out, one person will buy their product. While this doesn't seem like a very effective method for moving product, because of the simplicity of email marketing and the low cost of bulk emailing, the cost/benefit ratio for spam has been good enough to continue its existence. But things are changing and now is the time for all companies - especially banks - to start considering a more effective email marketing technique.
While your company may not be doing mass distributions of email on a regular basis, every time you send any marketing information via email you take the risk of being seen as a spammer. If that email falls into the in-box of someone who doesn't want that information you are, in effect, sending spam. Now with the adoption of CAN-SPAM regulations and recent crack downs, your company is also running the risk of being fined.
So how can a company continue to use email to market itself but not build a reputation as a spammer? Email marketing can work, but the key is creating email marketing campaigns that are targeted to people who actually want to receive the emails. The key to creating a successful email campaign is to think in terms of 'opt-in' rather than 'opt-out.'
When you send information to people who have opted in, you're sending information to people who are already inclined to purchase your products and services in the future. Instead of distributing emails to thousands of people hoping to find a pearl, your bank should send targeted emails to people who are already interested and are waiting for information. And more importantly, since your bank is sending information to a sympathetic audience, it's not going to be considered a spammer and won't be harming its brand.
From both a logistical and technical standpoint, creating and maintaining an opt-in email marketing list is much easier than working with an opt-out list. Some companies literally have hundreds of thousands of email names and routinely send out emails that many could consider spam. These recipients have the option to opt out, either by replying to the email or by visiting the company's website. Once a person opts out, it becomes the company's responsibility to ensure that recipient receives no further spam emails. The company must, of course, have a solid technical system in place to handle this. This sounds like an easy task, but when you look at the scale at which the system must operate and then couple it with the fact that companies typically have a wide variety of departments, persons, databases and partners involved in the sending of marketing emails, it becomes much more complex. A company need only make one mistake to leave itself open to fines under the CAN-SPAM act. Fines are levied on a per-email basis, so imagine what the damage potential could be in an email campaign that sends out to 500,000 blind email addresses!
This is why I am such a champion of opt-in email lists. While a company must still maintain a record of who wants to opt-out of the list once it is created, the act of creating the list and adding names to it is much more controlled and leaves less room for errors. Plus creating an opt-in list is the perfect excuse for a marketing department to finally create a unified marketing database.
Companies need to adopt a smarter way to market themselves and opt-in email marketing is easier and in the long run less expensive to maintain. Plus, opt-in marketing positions a company ahead of the curve, as I see ever-more stringent email protections beyond the opt-out idea of CAN-SPAM coming in the future.
It's easy to find forward thinking companies that are already shifting their marketing to opt-in. If you've recently visited a website or purchased a product online and filled out a form, you may remember seeing check boxes at the bottom of the form. These boxes ask you if you'd like to receive future information from the company or its partners about product updates or other developments. Once you choose yes, your name is added to their email list and you will be targeted with future information.
However you look at it, the days of mass, bulk email marketing are numbered, at least for reputable companies. Whether CAN-SPAM or its future modifications will be the final nail in the coffin, or whether the end will come as a result of diminishing returns from such campaigns remains to be seen. But smart companies are now taking the initiative to make the technological and management changes needed to create opt-in email marketing lists. It's a smarter and more effective way to sell your product, protects your company from fines, and preserves the integrity of your company's brand.
Lane Belling is a project manager with Tallan in the company's Chicago office. For more information visit www.tallan.com.
Copyright NFR Communications Inc Aug 15-Aug 31, 2005
Mortgage Software Application
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